Mark J. Suddaby
I'm a writer. I do others things, but right now it's mostly writing.
The Difference Engine novella is being written; expected completion in early summer 2024
all about me
A bit narcissistic, I know, but it's hard not to come across a bit like that when you arrive at the (heavy, eventual) realisation that you need to be "in the internet". And it be all about you (me).
In the olden days, people just wrote stuff and other people read it (or not) and liked it (or not). Occasionally, money was involved and everything. And that was it really. But then that guy invented the internet and then those other guys (lots of guys, I know) did social media – lawsuits – and here we are. Me with a website like some egomaniacal Roman Emperor, convinced of my own imperious girth, and you peering at it wondering what on Earth's going on. I feel your pain, really.
I write. I didn't always, but now I do. And I find that I quite like it, which is handy because my first novel has just been published. Out there. In the world. Blimey.
And what I write, exclusively, is fiction. Speculative, questioning fiction. And usually, with a spaceship or two thrown in. Because... spaceships.
When you're a struggling, penniless, haggard, semi-terrified writer (I may be exaggerating just a bit there) you get asked (a lot), why. Why write? What's your motivation? Why do it to yourself?
Well, not for the joy of rejection, that's for sure.
My answer – which sounds like a cliché, I know, but I can't help that – is simply that it is the only way to stop the ideas from leaving my brain a tiny smoking ruin.
So I write to purge my mind, or the stories begin to take over. And it's never a good thing when the made-up people start running the asylum.
I also get asked how I come up with the stories in the first place, and I say to those people that I can't really take the blame for that. It's my brain that does all the complicated thinky-uppy stuff.
I'm just the typist.
Writing is, for me, a liberating experience. I am a creator of worlds, and that Godlike power, that absolute totalitarian omnipotence (although my characters do often like to question their creative direction) is a wild ride. It can also be head-bendingly hard and feel like herding a bag full of sugar-crazed cats, but if it was easy, right?
I used to think in length – shorts, novellas, novels – but as I progress and mature, I've taken to viewing them all the same. They are all stories, all complex in their own way and fun to write in different ways.
this other guy
I used to be this other guy, and people ask who that was, so let me answer that.
Born in the West Country of England, I grew up in a large family during the '70's (every shade of brown, choppers, hoppers, summer of ‘76, Silver Jubilee, flares), but I couldn't make academic learning work for me so I left school at 16 and joined the Army. I got lucky and was able to bluff my way through officer selection and was commissioned into the infantry at the shockingly tender age of 19. I went to all the places that you'd expect (cold/rainy, hot/dusty) and, to be honest, whilst some of it was bit, um, on the nose, it was one heck of a thing to do. The people, the places, the experiences. Indescribable (or rather, I choose not to describe them). But here's the thing: I learned, after what became my final op tour, an important truth about myself. I could lead, sure, but I fell short when it came to command. And the two aren't the same. One is empathetic and intuitive, the other is not.
So I left the Army and became a writer instead. And I did this because I'd spent 25 years thinking I was this other guy, when really I was me all along.
me all along
So now I have moved back to the West Country, after a life never really everywhere, where I live my new best life, thanking the universe each day for still allowing me to be in it.
Here I write, experiment with my writing, look at the world and wonder about the future – I speculate. And I plot, scheme and plan a route from impoverished shrivelled-up writer caterpillar to mighty, technicolored author butterfly, where people ring up and are nice to me and stuff like that.
My writing, I think demonstrates aptly my sci-fi-y genre/pigeon/box/hole, but for me it's more than simply geeky science or philosophically speculative fiction. It's the ability to explore our world though the prism of others. To wonder what the neighbourhood will be like if we carry on down certain paths. Right now, my speculative interests are focused most keenly on: our climate and its unintended consequences; gender and identity; the impact of technology on our culture; and of course, the human condition.
Plus also, I have another passion – because I am not solely defined by my inability, or not, to repeatedly arrange words in a previously untried order. And that other passion is gold, is as wide as a house, as low as a paving slab, sporting a '70's vibe and does little oily wees on the garage floor.
I own a 1979 Lotus Esprit Series 2, in Championship Champagne Gold. I bought the car in 2017 and have spent the last four years having the car fully restored and modernised.
And yes, you can take the car out of the 1970's but no, you can't take the 1970's out of the car, so there are still aspects that retain their original, erm, charm. Like finding a gear, the part-time wiper blade and the little widdles. But mainly, she's a massive slice of '70's disco chic.
A GT, with supercar looks and sportscar performance. And, unlike some other just as ridiculous cars, the Esprit seems to engender a certain affection and chatty interaction when I take her to Aldi that you just can't put a price on.
three things about me
And only three, so count yourself lucky.
writing words on a page
To write, you have to have both a tale to tell, and then actually be able to tell that tale using language in its written form. Whilst I believe that language can be – like clay – needed and moulded and creatively curated into an artistic form, I also believe that there is a set of rules (spelling, grammar) that must be adhered to if the reader is to follow along and not be put off. Language is designed to communicate a fixed concept from human to human, after all. Language is a code and the rules its cypher.
And it is this latter point that I struggle with, as I'm not entirely convinced that I'm neurally wired for the ruleset. But I do my best, work hard to proofread and line-edit my work (even when the words get up and move about) and believe that I can always get help with copy, whereas the creativity is where the magic happens (assuming some magic in the first place).
my special skill
I'm an introvert. I thought I wasn't for years and years and got really good at pretending that I was this super outgoing, life-and-soul kindofa guy.
But I'm not.
I like cats. And cancellations. And not speaking. Useful for a writer, I suspect, and so now that I'm me all along, rather than that other guy, I can wield my introverted nature like club, not only to do literally all my admin online, but also to focus inwards where my deep well of energy and inspiration lives and turn that, through my writing, outwards and maybe entertain in a way that physical me could never do.
I do still like a party, mind; as long as I can leave early and not tell anyone.
my other special skill
I'm left-handed. Like proper, extremist level left-handed.
And, whilst I do get easily confused by corkscrews (right?) and tin openers (yeah, tin openers), and (weirdly) rulers, I use the right side of my brain for all the thinking, which is apparently totally awesome.
According to creative Right Brain, that is (logical Left Brain has run the numbers and is less convinced).
Addendum: The other day I used a manual drill (for the first time) and was well confused by that too.
Being left-handed - harder than we make it look. I do use scissors right handed, but that’s because of the scissorarchy.